BLOOMINGTON — Two new wind farms in northeast McLean County are on track to start operating in the next year.
Bright Stalk Wind Farm and McLean County Wind Energy Center (MCWEC), separate developments near Lexington and Chenoa, are ramping up to full-scale construction, with Bright Stalk to start running first — possibly this fall.
"We are under construction, and we will be done by the end of this year," said Katie Chapman, project manager at Bright Stalk developer EDP Renewables. "Our target is to be up and running by Nov. 29. ... A lot of the project cleanup will continue into 2020."
"We're lining up contractors to start construction on the project later this year," said Jon Saxon, vice president of development, central region, for MCWEC developer Invenergy. "Commercial operations, when we start injecting power (onto the grid), we're projecting for (summer) 2020."
EDP has received building permits from McLean County for 57 turbines totaling 250 megawatts of capacity. The company plans to also erect two permanent meteorological towers in the area.
"We're starting on public roadwork first, and then we'll move onto access roads, collection lines and finally turbine delivery this summer," said Chapman. "We're working specifically with the townships of Chenoa, Yates and Lawndale (on road improvements)."
Road improvements are necessary for EDP to transport wind turbines and related infrastructure into rural parts of the county.
Chapman said the company has finished working out agreements with local landowners to put turbines on their property but is still negotiating "neighbor agreements" to compensate others who will live near them.
Bright Stalk is expected to cost $348 million and generate up to $2.6 million in local taxes annually. As many as 300 may be hired for construction, and 13 for permanent operations.
"It is a construction project, so there are some things we can't change, but where we can make adjustments to make people's lives better, we want to take that into account," said Chapman. "Just because you don't host a turbine doesn't mean they aren't a part of your life."
McLean County Wind Energy Center
Invenergy plans to build between 90 and 100 turbines for MCWEC totaling 250 megawatts but hasn't finalized where or how many, said Saxon. Some permanent meteorological towers are planned as well.
"We have finalized our land agreements and are in now what is called the 'curative process' ... really getting the appropriate title commitments and perfecting our interests in the land," he said. "As far as having all the land required to install the turbines, lay collection lines and associated facilities, that is complete."
Saxon said work to be completed this year "would really be those early activities related to road work and foundations" for the turbines, with those expected to be delivered early in 2020.
MCWEC is expected to cost about $300 million and generate $2.3 million in local taxes per year. Construction is expected to create 519 temporary jobs.